Reflections on Death Note: The God We Want vs. The God We Need
WHO IS THE BETTER GOD?
By Hotep Anthony
According to the Death Note manga, that’s how many rapes Light Yagami had prevented. Annually.
For those who you who may be unaware of what exactly is the masterpiece entitled “Death Note”, allow me to give you a brief synopsis:
Death Note is the story of an exemplary Japanese teenager named Light Yagami who, by pure chance, comes across the power of something called the “Death Note”. The Death Note, a seemingly innocuous small black notebook, allows the user of the book to kill whoever they want, provided they know their victim’s name and can visualize their face. Light Yagami decides to use the Death Note to kill criminals and those who cause harm to others and establish himself as the “God of the New World”.
175,000 rapes. According to the Death Note manga, that’s how many rapes Light Yagami had prevented. Annually.
As we follow his story we see Light devolve from a kind hearted, honest, respectable young man, into a ruthless sociopath. He martyrs himself, loses his soul, for the sake of his ideal new world. However, as we witness Light’s descent into darkness, we also witness how the world is affected by Light’s actions. In his brief time as self-appointed God, a mere 5 years, he ended all wars, reduced global crime rates by 70%, and established a global peace that the world had never known before. At the price of his soul, Light Yagami successfully created a better world.
In many ways, Light is quite similar to Yahweh of the Old Testament; quick to put out the flames of iniquity, and feared for his incomprehensible power. One of the most common complaints about Christianity is the very noticeable tone switch between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. Standing in stark contrast to Light and the Yaweh of the Old Testament is Jesus Christ.
In his brief time as self-appointed God, a mere 5 years, Light ended all wars, reduced global crime rates by 70%.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Bible, Jesus is the Jewish guy who people keep saying died for your sins.
Jesus’s message was essentially that a virtuous society starts by having virtuous individuals, and in order to be a virtuous individual you must do two things: Love God, and love people.
So which is most effective, Love or Fear? Well, despite my grievances with religion as a whole, I truly believe there is one thing that the Christian religion gets right, undoubtedly, over the others: A full employment of the spectrum that contains fear and love. In one corner, we have the Old Testament God who didn't think twice about killing women and children in the name of the greater good (actions that if taken by any other person or entity would be considered completely sociopathic mind you). And in the other corner, we have Jesus who regularly commands his followers to love their enemies and pray for those who trespass against them. Yahweh, who floods the world in order to rid it of what He considers filth. Yashua, who would endure torture and humiliation in order to redeem what he considers precious. This is the fullness of the Christian God. And one side of the coin is not to be valued over the other.
So which is most effective, Love or Fear?
Would Light sacrifice his life for humanity? Some would argue that he would and did, as he made clear from the beginning that he was using the Death Note as a human for humans. But, in my opinion, it wasn't his ego or his astute sense of justice that made him such a good god. No, it was his undeniable presence, a practical and statistical impact on the world, that made him such a good god. A presence that Jesus seems to be lacking in modern times.
Oftentimes, Christians in first world countries speak to small things such as getting a raise at work, or into the school that they wanted as proof that God is real and looking out for them, to which I often reply something akin to, “Tell that to the mother of the 19 year girl in India whose child was gang-raped to death and then ditched in a canal.” But hey, congratulations to you.
Kira would kill those men. Would God? Light would have eliminated ISIS by now, so why hasn’t God? Whenever I ask these questions, I always receive a response similar to something like “We must trust in God’s perfect plan”. However, despite whatever platitude I recieve, I’m always left feeling like God simply doesn't care, or even sometimes, that maybe He’s just not there. I have my own, more detailed, theories on perhaps why God doesn't do anything about the evil in this world, but ultimately the question comes down to this:
Which is better for humanity: A God who we know is there and enforces justice, or a God who might be there and enforces love?
Which would you want? Which do you think we need?